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May 2017 Archives

AZ Dept. of Corrections caught reading private inmate-lawyer mail

In 2011, an Arizona state prison inmate was infuriated when corrections officers read his confidential correspondence with his attorney, even though it was marked "legal mail." He sued the Department of Corrections for violating his Sixth Amendment right to counsel, among others.

Does Arizona's Victims' Bill of Rights violate defendants' rights?

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees a criminal defendant's right to "be confronted with the witnesses against him" in all prosecutions. That's one reason why the state can't bring hearsay evidence against you in a criminal case, for example. You have the right to see, hear and confront any witness (or even a document) accusing you of any crime. It's an essential part of due process of law.

Did police have probable cause to search your car?

Any Arizona motorist who has ever been pulled over by police knows how distressing such situations can be. One minute, you're driving along, perhaps after enjoying a nice evening out with some friends, and the next thing you know there are red and blue lights flashing in your rear-view mirror. Sometimes, simply finding a spot on the roadside to safely pull over and stop is enough to cause anxiety.

Will the DOJ push prosecutors toward the harshest possible sentences?

The Associated Press has obtained information about an upcoming policy guidance memo that would urge prosecutors to file the most serious charges they believe they can prove in court. This would be a reversal of the Obama Justice Department's guidance that low-level offenders should not be sentenced to long-term incarceration.

Don't let the results of field sobriety tests get you down

Impaired driving is not something that the state of Arizona takes lightly. If a court convicts you, the potential consequences can be rather serious -- in some cases life-altering. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist you in fighting your case. One defense strategy that is often effective is questioning the results of field sobriety tests.

If plea bargains don't protect defendants, why do we have them?

The Atlantic magazine recently looked into the history and current state of plea bargaining in America and found it's not everything we would hope it could be. In most states and the federal system, fully 97 percent of criminal cases are resolved via plea bargain, even though the right to a speedy and public trial is enshrined in our Constitution's Sixth Amendment. That means that the vast majority of criminal defendants are foregoing the protections of a trial by jury.

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